Jan 30, 2023 / BUYING

Preparing to buy a ski home in 2023

Resolving to purchase a ski property in 2023 is the easy part. Like most resolutions, the devil is in the detail.

Where do you start, and how do you keep on track? From browsing our property portal right up to finding a local lawyer, we go through the essential preparations for buying a ski home.

Settle on a location


Where better to start your hunt for a ski home than by having a good nosey at our property portal? If you are undecided on a location, we’ll help narrow it down. It might come down to aesthetics: maybe the Italian ski chalets are appearing in your dreams more than Swiss ones. But it will also show you what you can get for your budget there. It can help you prioritise too. Would you prefer a third bedroom or skiing in and out of a two-bedroom property with a mountain outside your door?

A crucial consideration is journey time: how far away will your ski property be? It might be that as much as you adored Aspen’s Snowmass, Colorado is just too far to fly the kids every winter. So, that might bring your search back to Europe. And the hop across the channel to France feels particularly workable.

Will you need a visa?

View of the mountains from a window in Valtournenche, Italy.

The answer depends on how long you want to stay in your ski property. ‘Third-country citizens’ in the EU now include Brits as well as Americans, meaning they can only spend 90 days out of every 180 in Europe. To stay longer in the EU, you will need a visa of some kind. If you are only planning to spend the school holidays in your ski property, this is likely not something you need to worry about.

If you are retiring to the mountains, you will want to look into ‘non-lucrative’ visas. These are dependent on your having sufficient income to support yourself abroad without employment.

The golden rule of immigration law is that if you have plenty of money and a blemish-free reputation, you will be able to get residency. Furthermore, while relatively few skiable countries have golden visa schemes based on property purchase, plenty offer other investor schemes. Also, consider the world of digital nomad visas or international company transfers. 

Speaking to a currency specialist

Buying a ski property in another country means you will be dealing with foreign currency. This makes the buying process distinct from purchasing property in your own country.

The price of your ski chalet will fluctuate with changes in the currency market, and this can make budgeting all the more complex. We recommend speaking to high-value payments specialist Smart Currency Exchange, as they will explain the best way to plan and transfer money abroad with minimal risk. For example, they might recommend that you opt for a forward contract. This enables you to lock in an exchange rate for up to twelve months – this will mean that your ski chalet stays the same price from the day you choose it to the day you purchase it.

On the subject of finances, it’s also important to budget for costs outside of the property itself. These will include taxes, as well as agency and legal fees.

Moving on to an estate agent

So, you have settled on a location and picked out a couple of gorgeous chalets from our property portal; you know what you envision for your new home. The next step is to contact the agent. They will be able to consider your budget and preferences and find homes best suited to you. Their on-the-ground knowledge will be enlightening, and SnowOnly’s, of course, comes highly recommended. Often, they will show you homes that match your wish list before they’re advertised more generally – they might just find "the one" for you.

Book a viewing trip

Exterior of a ski property in Brixen (Bressanone), Plose, Bolzano, Italy.

Once you’ve found a selection of properties, book a viewing trip! There’s nothing like seeing a property with your own two eyes. It might be that you are returning to a beloved location that you’ve visited many times over, but this is a chance to really think about what it would be like to live there. Ask questions, take notes, and take lots of photos. And maybe visit during a different time of year than when you usually go to get a new feel for the place.

Find a local lawyer

Make contact with a specialist property lawyer as soon as possible in the process.A lawyer could save you heaps of time and money, and it’s always best to find a lawyer independent of your estate agent without time constraints or pressure. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with information on property legislation and recent changes to the law. 

It is best to find a lawyer before your viewing trip, as if you fall in love with a home, you don’t want to then be in a rush to find one before anyone else purchases the property you have your eye on. Additionally, you will be asked to sign documents, such as a reservation contract. Do not sign anything without fully understanding it. Even if you think you can grasp its contents with your half-remembered French. A good lawyer will walk you through any document step by step. Many can also advise on tax planning, visas, and residency status. 

Good on purchasing your ski property!